Ligament Knee Braces & Injuries: ACL, MCL, LCL, & PCL
The knee is the largest joint in the body and is also one of the most complex joints. The knee is essential to the movement of your leg. Sprains or tears in knee ligaments are most common in athletes. It used to be that when an athlete tore a knee ligament, it would be the end of an athlete’s career, now many athletes are able to return after a knee ligament injury. BraceAbility offers many knee ligament braces that can help in that recovery process.
Knee ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect the bones in your leg. There are four major ligaments in the knee and each of them can be torn:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
Collateral ligaments: These are the ligaments that are found on the sides of your knee. They control the sideways movement of your knee.
Cruciate ligaments: These are the ligaments found on the inside of your knee. They cross each other creating an “X” formation. Cruciate ligaments control the back and forth movement of your knee.
Ligaments often tear from sudden changes in motion, like changing direction suddenly while running. The knee joint relies on these four ligaments and also surrounding muscles for stability, so it is easily injured.
Symptoms of a Knee Ligament Injury:
- Very severe, sudden pain
- A popping or snapping sound
- Failure to put weight on the knee without excessive pain
These are just general symptoms of knee ligament injuries; there are different symptoms for each individual ligament, read each category for specific symptoms.
If you are looking for plus size ligament knee brace or a support that goes up to 4XL, BraceAbility offers Plus Size Ligament Knee Braces as well.
Knee Ligament Injury Treatment
If a person has a torn or strained ligament, an examination by an experienced physician is required to determine what ligament has been torn and what measures need to be taken. If you don’t think your ligament is torn or strained, but maybe just in some pain, read more on Types of Knee Pain: Anterior, Posterior, Medial, & Lateral.
ACL Knee Braces for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
The ACL is located within the knee joint. The anterior cruciate ligament is in front of the posterior ligament, forming an “X” shape. The ACL’s main function is to stabilize the knee when the leg is extended or if the surrounding muscles are relaxed, it is one of the main ligaments in the knee. Tears to the ACL, are far more common in females than males, due to differences in hormones, flexibility, and physical structure.
When someone tears an ACL there are a few main symptoms:
- Pain, sudden and severe
- A popping sound or sensation
- Swelling of the knee
- Instability of the knee
ACL tears can happen due to many different things, but most injuries happen because of sports or a trauma. A sports injury is the most common cause of an ACL tear, because of bending the knee too far back or hyperextending it.
After tearing your ACL you may need to have surgery to reconstruct the ligament. You will need a knee brace after your ACL surgery, we recommend one of our best sellers the Functional Knee Brace for Ligament Tears.
ACL Injury Treatment & Braces
If a person just has a partial tear, a doctor may just recommend repairing the ACL tear without surgery and use physical therapy and an ACL brace to strengthen the muscles. This then leaves one at risk for additional injuries.
If you were required to have surgery, we would recommend wearing a post-op knee brace and crutches until properly healed. The rehab process for an ACL tear is fairly lengthy and could take anywhere from six months up to a year. After you are recovered you may be advised to still wear an ACL Knee Brace while playing sports. We make many ACL support braces that can be worn during sporting activities including running that can be worn after ACL surgery.
For more information on ACL recovery, read more on our blog post – ACL Tear Recovery.
PCL Knee Braces for Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
The PCL is also another major ligament in the knee; it connects the femur to the shinbone. It controls the back and forth movement of your knee. The PCL is a cruciate ligament, meaning it is found on the inside of your knee joint. The ACL and PCL cross with each other forming an “X” with the posterior cruciate in the back.
PCL injuries make up less than 20% of knee ligament injuries; the posterior cruciate ligament is one of the strongest ligaments so it requires a very powerful force to be able to tear it. The most common situation for this to happen is when a bent knee hits a dashboard in car accident, or also an athlete falling on a bent knee. PCL injuries are most common in sports such as football, soccer, baseball, basketball, and skiing.
- Pain that causes a knee to be limp, knee “giving out”, or a difficult time walking
- Feeling of a loose knee
Unlike an ACL injury, you will usually not hear any sound with a PCL tear.
PCL Injury Treatment
PCL tears can be classified into 4 different groups (Healthy PCL, Grade 1 Tear, Grade 2 Tear, and Grade 3 Tear) and the best way to determine this class is by an MRI. If the tear is severe enough you may have to have PCL surgery. After surgery, it is recommended that you wear a PCL knee brace for surgery recovery. BraceAbility has many braces and supports for preventing & treating PCL tears.
LCL Knee Braces for Lateral Collateral Ligament Injuries
The LCL is a collateral ligament that is found on the outside of the knee and connects the femur to the smaller bone of the leg bone. An LCL injury is most common in full contact sports such as football or soccer.
LCL Tear Symptoms:
- Knee gives out when standing or under stress
- Pain on the outside of the knee
- Locking and stiffness when you try to move your knee
- Numbness in the foot
- Swelling on the outside of the knee
LCL Sprain Injury Treatment
It is very important to have proper treatment right after the injury occurs to make sure it will heal properly. BraceAbility offers many treatments for knee ligament injuries, check out our selection of Knee Braces for LCL Tears.
The more severe injuries will require surgery to replace the ligament that was torn. Surgery is also necessary if multiple ligaments are torn. LCL surgery is different than most ligament knee surgeries because it is an open-knee procedure.
LCL Rehab and Recovery
Depending on how serious the LCL injury is, treatment will vary. Some cases may require a knee brace for the LCL injury. It is also recommended to use ice and elevation as needed and to make sure you move your injured knee as little as possible. Going to physical therapy to help strengthen and regain motion of your knee.
MCL Knee Braces for Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries
The MCL is a collateral ligament, which means it is on the side of your knee, the medial collateral ligament specifically is on the inside of your knee. Its primary function is to prevent the leg from overextending and from bending inward. Injuries to the medial collateral ligament usually occur when a strong force hits the outside of the knee.
MCL Tear Symptoms:
- Swelling on the outside of the knee
- Severe Pain
- Tenderness to touch
- Slight bruising
MCL Sprain Injury Treatment
Most MCL injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Your doctor may suggest a brace that helps to protect your knee, but allows for some movement. If the tear is very severe you may need surgery. This usually isn’t done unless you also injure another ligament or part of your knee, such as your ACL or meniscus.